10.29.16

Detroit Free Press: Senate bill aims to honor automotive history

America’s history of automotive invention could soon have federal recognition, thanks to a bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan.

“We want to preserve the incredible heritage this country has of innovation and putting the world on wheels,” Peters said of the National Historical Vehicle Register Act. “The auto industry represents the breadth of human ingenuity.”

He hopes the bill will be passed into law when Congress resumes after the Nov. 8 election.

The law would recognize the work the privately funded Historic Vehicle Association does with the National Parks Service and Library of Congress to document the history of particularly significant vehicles and the impact the auto industry has had on all aspects of American life.

The bill does not require any federal funding. It gives federal recognition to the work the HVA is already doing, similar to the National Register of Historic Buildings.

“Over the last 50 years, 80,000 buildings have been documented as part of national heritage,” Historic Vehicle Association president Mark Gessler said. “The National Air & Space museum was built — the most visited museum complex in the world — while automotive heritage remained largely neglected.”

The HVA has already documented 14 vehicles ranging from a Cadillac that served the U.S. Army in Europe during WWI to the first concept car — the Buick Y-Job — the first Chevrolet Camaro.

Peters began thinking about the act when he saw how many people came to the National Mall in Washington when the HVA displayed cars owned by presidents William Howard Taft and Ronald Reagan in spring 2016. The cars remain privately owned, but the HVA documents virtually every moment of their existence and every nut and bolt in their construction.

“The best and brightest engineers our country produced often worked in the auto industry,” Peters said. With the development of autonomous vehicles, “We’re on the precipice of the most disruptive technology since Henry Ford invented the moving assembly line. It’s important to recognize other game-changing developments that transformed society and created the American middle class.

“It’s not a partisan issue,” Peters said. “I just need to round up some other car and motorcycle buffs like myself in Congress.”


By:  Mark Phelan
Source: Detroit Free Press